Month: March 2017

Weekly Box Office Work-Up: Mar. 24-26

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast continued to feast a top the box office this weekend. The film took in $88.3 million for the fourth largest second weekend ever. It’s also the fourth consecutive film from the studio to gross over $600 internationally. Sean Bailey, Disney Studio’s President of Production, recently spoke on the beastly success of ‘Beast’ and gave an update on possible future spin-offs and prequels (details here).

In terms of new releases, Power Rangers put up the best fight against Disney’s money machine. The 90’s cheesefest powered to a $40.5 million. On a $100 million production budget, we may not hear an official sequel announcement from Lionsgate as soon as they’d hoped (come on, Mr. Ooze!). Meanwhile, there wasn’t much life in Sony’s space monster movie Life, which landed $12.6 million. The Warner Bros. adaptation of the 70’s sitcom CHiPS couldn’t crunch the top five with an ironically funny $7.6 million.

Domestic= How much a movie made within the United States

Here are this weekend’s top five finishes as well as their specific tallies (provided by the lovely Box Office Mojo):

% change= the percentage a film's domestic gross dropped from previous weekend

1.) Beauty & the Beast

bb

 

Weekend gross (domestic): $88.3 million

% change: -49.4%

Total gross (domestic): $316.9 million

Total worldwide gross: $690.2 million

Original budget: $160 million

 

2.) Power Rangers

rangers

 

Weekend gross (domestic): $40.5 million

% change: n/a

Total gross (domestic): $40.5 million

Total worldwide gross: $59.2

Original budget: $100 million

 

3.) Kong: Skull Island

kong

 

Weekend gross (domestic): $14.4

% change: -42.8%

Total gross (domestic): $133.5 million

Total worldwide gross: $392.1 million

Original budget: $185 million

 

4.) Life

life

 

Weekend gross (domestic): $12.6 million

% change: n/a

Total gross (domestic): $12.6 million

Total worldwide gross: $28.7 million

Original budget: $58 million

 

5.) Logan

logan

 

Weekend gross (domestic): $10.1 million

% change: -43.1%

Total gross (domestic): $201.4 million

Total worldwide gross: $565.5 million

Original budget: $94 million

 

Look for another busy brawl at the box office this weekend to finish out this blockbuster March. The live-action Ghost in the Shell adaptation starring Scarlett Johansson opens against the WWII drama The Zookeeper’s Wife as well as the family-friendly animation The Boss Baby. Check in next weekend for those final tallies!

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Power Rangers (2017)- Review

Director: Dean Isrelite

Starring: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, Becky G, Elizabeth Banks, and Bryan Cranston

Synopsis: A group of high-school kids, who are infused with unique superpowers, harness their abilities in order to save the world (Source: IMDb). 

Rating: PG-13

Growing up, I always thought that the Power Rangers was awful, even as a child. Though I couldn’t express it quite so eloquently at the time, I knew what I was watching was the sort of lowbrow dope aimed specifically at my demographic. Of course that didn’t stop me from eating it up. As I got older, though, the franchise dropped out of my favor but continued to thrive in the underbelly of nerd culture (you can’t go to any sort of comic convention without spotting some incarnation of the iconic spandex).

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Here we are, almost two decades later, staring down the barrel of a possible cinematic revival (Power Rangers being the latest attempt from Hollywood to capitalize on the current nostalgia culture). Yet despite my having lost interest years ago, somehow, someway I found myself at a Thursday night pre-screening, sitting amongst a sweaty score of Ranger strangers. Then the lights dimmed and the darndest thing happened: I had fun.

From the prologue, Director Dean Isrelite (Project Almanac) establishes a ludicrous sense of playfulness akin to the 1993 original, which is exactly what you’d expect from a film that opens in the Cretaceous era where, in a final act of desperation, the battle-worn Zordon (Bryan Cranston) summons a meteor to obliterate his foe Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) once and for all. Unfortunately, the dinosaurs took the berth of the punishment.

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The silliness spills into the next scene where we meet the future Red Ranger, Jason (Dacre Montgomery), a kind-hearted jock with a disposition for the type of delinquency that lands teenagers in Saturday school. Here Jason meets two more future Rangers, Kimberly (Naomi Scott) and Billy (RJ Cyler). Though these kids share an archetypal angst, solid character writing and strong performances make them easy to root for.

This was also the case for the last two Rangers, who our trio meet at a quarry just outside of town. It’s here where their combined delinquency (and a lot of luck) sets them down a path to morhpin’ time, beginning with the discovery of the Power Coins Zordon stashed away over 65-million years ago.

pr3At the same time, fishermen unknowingly scoop up the crusty remains of Rita Repulsa, who then wakes up (I guess she was finished with her nap?) and begins her quest to resurrect Goldar and unearth the Zeo Crystal (if you feel lost right now, then this movie probably isn’t for you). Elizabeth Banks finely captures the raw insanity of Rita, though occasionally her scenes feel as if they’ve been ripped straight from of another movie.

Everything else plays out like you’d expect from a superhero origin story. We get a training montage where our heroes learn to fight; a slower bonding scene around a campfire; as well as the inevitable “first beatdown” from the baddie, after which the team doubts themselves for a bit before regrouping and rebounding stronger than ever. If you’ve been waiting for a Zords reference this whole review, here it is (also, you’re probably a huge nerd, nerd).

pr4

The last act is where Isrelite lets ‘Rangers’ bask in all its campy glory. High-flying acrobats in silly costumes punch rock monsters in the face (even underwater at one point) before jumping into giant, mechanical dinosaurs to take down a huge monster made of liquid gold. There’s even a brief moment where the original theme music plays over top a shot of the Zords running together!

It’s just as silly as it sounds, yes, and if you’re not willing to suspend your disbelief (and I mean really suspend it) then you’re not going to have any fun with Power Rangers. But if you’re fine with sitting back and cutting your brain some slack for a couple hours, then you may be one of the chosen ones.

Grade: B

Power Rangers jump into action this weekend at a theater near you.

Have you seen Power Rangers yet? Do you plan to? Did you grow up watching the show? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Life (2017)- Review

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Olga Dihovichnaya, & Ariyon Bakare

Synopsis: A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover a rapidly evolving life form, that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth (Source: IMDb).

Rating: R

In space, nobody can hear you yawn. In the theater, however, everyone can and during my particular screening, there was plenty of it. To be fair, it was late at night and we were all comfortably reclined in premium leather Lazy Boys. Still, with as creative a spin on the genre as the film presents and the amount of talent involved, it should have been much easier to stay awake for Life.

life2

You can tell Director Daniel Espinosa (Safe House) and writing duo Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese (Zombieland, Deadpool) had high aspirations for their sci-fi horror flick, going so far to as emulate Ridley Scott’s Alien to the point of tedium. And though Scott is still exploring the origins of the xenomorph with his ongoing anthology, Life offers a much simpler and more relevant revelation.

Instead of hatching from gooey eggs on some distant moon a hundred years from now, their monster (later dubbed Calvin by Earthly school children) is unearthed from a Martian core sample by present-day astronauts living aboard the International Space Station (or ISS). And instead of an intricately inspired extraterrestrial (thank you, H.R. Giger), Calvin is more of a microbial jelly. On paper this somewhat more grounded explanation sounds scarier. On screen, however, narrative tension becomes the first victim.

calvin

As probable as everything up to this point sounds, Calvin is rather improbable. Shortly after breaking free from its enclosure, it becomes apparent that this squid-thing is nearly indestructible. Despite their best efforts, our crew never stands a chance. Calvin is always the smartest, strongest, most observant thing in the room.

Of course it doesn’t help that our scientists keep making bad decisions. Because of these things, Life never lives up to its promised cat and mouse premise. Instead, it’s a game of waiting to see who’s gonna bite it (rather, get bit) next. And it’s a game that, despite the familiarity of such films, could have been much more fun to play had the characters been a bit more fleshed out. You can almost tell who’s getting offed next based on who has the least amount of backstory.

life

However, the most frustrating things about Life is its persistent hand-holding. It overcompensates for its narrative shortcomings with an overly dramatic, in-your-face score designed to not let you forget how you’re supposed to be feeling at any given moment and expulsions of blatant exposition (at one point one character says “Calvin’s in the air vents!” when we just saw Calvin go into the air vents) in case you dozed off.

Life‘s not all bad, though. For instance, Espinosa does a nice job with the environment. I never doubted for a second that the crew was floating about in space aboard the International Space Station. Of course, some of that credit goes to the stunning work from the visual effects team. And though the characters themselves don’t have a whole lot going on, the performances help make them just tolerable enough to the point where I cared to stick around through the ending. That’s gotta mean something, right?

Grade: C+

Life lands in theaters Friday, March 24th.

Have you seen Life? What did you think? Was it a total Alien ripoff or did you find something about it to cling to? Let us know in the comments section!

Michael Shannon hooking up Cable in ‘Deadpool 2’?

cable

Since the Ferris Bueller-inspired stinger at the end of the Deadpool credits, fans (along with Deadpool himself) have been speculating on which lucky actor will land the role of Nathan Summers, aka Cable, in the inevitable Deadpool 2. Today The Hollywood Reporter dropped a tasty casting nugget: Actor Michael Shannon is the frontrunner to play the time-traveling mutant, who is very much the authoritarian foil to Wade Wilson’s spastic stylings.

Stranger Things actor David Harbour was also recently mentioned as a possible alternative. There were also rumors of Kyle Chandler’s name being thrown into the mix as well, but sources say that he was never in consideration.

Shannon, 42, is not new to the realm of comic book movies. He played General Zod in Zack Snyder’s 2013 Man of Steel, which ultimately stemmed the current DC Extended Universe. Shannon was recently nominated for an Oscar for his work in Nocturnal Animals.

Deadpool 2 does not have an official release date but is expected to shoot this summer in Vancouver and hit theaters in 2018.

What do you think about this possible casting choice? Do you think Michael Shannon is a good fit? Sound off in the comments below and let us know!

Sean Bailey talks ‘Beauty & the Beast’ prequel & remaking more Disney classics

bbDisney’s live-action remake of Beauty & the Beast clawed through box office expectations this past weekend, bringing in more than $170 million domestically (the sixth best opening weekend ever). It should come as no surprise then that Disney is looking for ways to capitalize on this success.

You can find the specific tallies of this weekend's box office along with our analysis here.

During an interview with Deadline, Walt Disney Studios’ President of Production Sean Bailey disclosed that they’re already considering a possible prequel or spinoff for the tale as old as time. Deadline also reports that there are no plans to do a sequel, suggesting the studio learned their lesion with Alice Through the Looking Glass.

That said, Disney does not feel pressured to franchise their ‘Beauty’ anytime soon. As it is, the plan is to keep on with live-action adaptations of “classic [Disney] properties.” Bailey took this statement a bit further, saying no 2D animated film is off limits if a filmmaker can find a way in. Bailey did make it clear though that what is off limits are the post-2000’s CGI 3D films from both Pixar and Disney Animation. Of course, this could (and probably will) change once the Mouse House runs out of remake fuel.

Until then, we can look forward to years of live-action remakes of our favorite childhood Disney films. And if they’re all as good as Beauty & the Beast, I’m fine with that (click here for our full review of Beauty & the Beast).

Which Beauty & the Beast spinoff film would you like to see? Or would you rather not see one? Let us know in the comments below!

A fistful of things that don’t work in ‘Iron Fist’ (SPOILERS)

The Iron Fist

glow

We have a few questions about the so-called “Living Weapon.”

How does it work, exactly? We know Danny must focus his chi in order to summon it. Unfortunately, it’s harder than it sounds. Things get in the way of Danny’s focus, but…

At one point early on, Danny says the psych ward’s drugs prevent him from focusing his chi and summoning the fist; however, moments after Danny is doped out and dragged across the hospital, he beats up three of Ward’s men and blasts down a steel door with a single punch.

Does killing people also mess up Danny’s chi? During the penultimate episode, Colleen seems to think that this is the case. But earlier on we find out that the Iron Fist’s duty is to end The Hand and Davos calls Danny weak for not killing Bakuto.

glow2

Going a bit further, what are the Iron Fist’s origins and how does defeating a Shaolin dragon give someone that power?

Why is the Iron Fist the sworn enemy of The Hand? What is their history? And if they are sworn enemies, then they must have fought each other at one point, right? Then why does Danny reference The Hand as if they’re a myth?  Sure, he may never have fought them personally, but surely K’un-Lun possess some record of at least one of the previous Iron Fists doing battle with the shadowy organization.

The Hand

hole

At this point in the Marvel/Netflix Universe, The Hand doesn’t possess a cohesive identity. They’re just an omnipresent entity for our heroes to fight. In season two of Daredevil, The Hand is digging a big hole for some reason. In Iron Fist, The Hand is selling heroin. Are these two somehow connected or is The Hand simply behind all the bad stuff going on in New York?

To muddle matters more, apparently there are multiple factions within The Hand. Colleen doesn’t get too specific about them either. Instead, she seems to insist that one is trying to help aimless kids find purpose and that the other faction, lead by Goa, is selling drugs. What is the endgame here and how is this hierarchy structured?

iron heroine

More than identity, how does The Hand’s resurrection technology work? We know for sure that it changes those who are brought back with it. That’s about all we know because at one point Howard cuts off a finger as a constant reminder of his failures but then has all ten later when he is brought back to life a second time. Does this tech. regenerate lost limps? Because it obviously can’t regrow the head. And when Harold is brought back a second time, why does he first wander around New York like a caveman lost in time? A simple explanation here would have cleared things up considerably.

Rand Enterprises & Board (Bored) Meetings

One of the biggest complaints about Iron Fist is that it focuses far too much on rich people sitting around discussing financial mumbo-jumbo. A lot of these scenes are the result of Danny trying to reclaim the business that is his namesake, which is understandable. However, once Danny regains his 51% stock in Rand Enterprises, he seems to have zero interest in the company and is ultimately ousted by the board (despite being the majority shareholder).

Before being voted out, however, a well-groomed Danny promises a random mother that they will look into her claims that their chemical plant gave her random son cancer. Unfortunate, yes, but we never meet this lady’s son nor do we ever hear from her again and this subplot is never tied up. Essentially, all these scenes have zero payoff, which is infuriating because they make up a bulk of the show. For more on this, here are some snapshots from the exciting, action-packed kung-fu series Iron Fist:

Sabina & the Chemist (No, it’s not a band)

Danny Rand spends three episodes tracking down and saving a woman named Sabina, who is the daughter of The Hand’s heroin chemist (who they need to smuggle into the states for some reason). If you haven’t seen the show then you’re probably wondering why The Hand needs a special chemist to make heroin. Well, it’s a special type of heroin and they get him to make it by holding his daughter, Sabina, hostage.

iron drugs

At one point Danny decides he’s going to search New York’s seaside warehouses until he finds where The Hand is holding Sabina. There are a lot of problems with this plot. First, Danny drives to each warehouse despite the fact that the only time he has driven a car was as a kid fifteen years ago.

Second, Danny brings Ward along for the hunt. You read that correctly. Danny Rand lets a citizen tag along while he actively seeks out the base of operations for a shadow organization run by highly trained assassins.

mysterymonk

Thirdly, after Danny fails to locate Sabina, The Hand comes to him with a challenge. If he wins a series of fights, then they will release Sabina. Danny agrees, in turn promising to cease resisting The Hand if he fails any of their tests along the way. And along the way, Danny seems to have psychic conversations with some monk, who encourages Danny (via insults) to fight on despite his weakening state.

The identity of this monk goes unknown and Danny never again has psychic conversations. Is this a special master-trainee connection or something supernatural only an Iron Fist can achieve? If Danny hadn’t magically tamed Joy’s attack dog in the first episode by simply staring it down, I would be inclined to believe that this whole thing was just an illusion in Danny’s head sparked by bitter memories of his harsh training. Alas, this is never cleared up.

Lastly (and most offensively), The Hand cheats and Danny yields to save Sabina’s life. As it turns out, the entire thing was a rouse so that The Hand could quietly steal back their chemist and kill him. Then we never hear from Sabina again. Yup, that’s the end of a three episode arc.

Danny Rand

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To those who suffered through all thirteen hours, one thing is clear: Danny Rand is a crybaby. He’s consistently apologizing for his ceaseless emotional outbreaks. Sure, we like to see our own vulnerabilities reflected through our heroes (particularly superheroes), but this is escapism. We are supposed to want to escape our lives, not our characters. He is like so annoying!

These temper tantrums also make it difficult to believe Danny as the Iron Fist. He is not a disciplined warrior. He constantly lets his emotions get the best of him. It goes against everything we are told about the Iron Fist. Why would anybody trust this kid to protect them from anything, let alone from forces as unpredictable and far-reaching as The Hand?

These are just a few of the things that didn't work for us in the new Marvel/Netflix Iron Fist series. What did you think of the show? Did you enjoy it? Did you also have problems with it? Let us know in the comments below!

Weekly Box Office Work-Up: Mar. 17-19

After a record-setting weekend, Disney’s live-action adaptation of the Tale as Old as Time has proven that age truly is just a number. Beauty and the Beast (2017) now boasts the biggest March opening (domestically speaking), with a $174.8 million take. It beat out Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice for the honor, which set the record just last year with $166 million. This ferocious haul also makes Beauty and the Beast the sixth largest domestic opening ever (Disney now owns six of the top seven).

This box office ravaging reinforces our current nostalgia culture. In fact, the films taking second and third place this weekend, in some fashion or another, appeal to our collective desire to relive the good ol’ days. Kong: Skull Island, for instance, is just the next step in the evolution of movies’ favorite monkey and Logan concludes Hugh Jackman’s run of (arguably) the most iconic superhero of the past two decades.

Challenging nostalgia culture, however, is Jordan Peele’s social thriller Get Out. The film only dropped 36.1% in its fourth weekend, which is fantastic considering the average drop-off for a movie going from week one into week two is around 50%. There’s no doubt that part of Get Out‘s prolonged success is its alternative programming appeal. It also helps that it’s a great film that continues to get great buzz. There is something to be said for true, quality filmmaking.

*Domestic= how much money a particular movie made in the U.S.

Here are this weekend’s specific numbers (all by the lovely boxofficemojo.com):

1.) Beauty and the Beast

beautybeast

 

Weekend gross (domestic): $174.8 million

% change: n/a

Total gross (domestic): $174.8 million

Total worldwide gross: $352.2

Original budget: $160 million

2.) Kong: Skull Island

kong

 

Weekend gross (domestic): $28.85 million

% change: -53%

Total gross (domestic): $110 million

Total worldwide gross: $259.3 million

Original budget: $185 million

 

3.) Logan

logan

 

Weekend gross (domestic): $17.5 million

% change: -54.1%

Total gross (domestic): $184.9 million

Total worldwide gross: $524.1 million (#1 worldwide release of 2017 so far)

Original budget: $97 million

 

4.) Get Out

get out

 

Weekend gross (domestic): $13.2 million

% change: -36.1%

Total gross (domestic): $133 million

Total worldwide gross: $135.9 million (made international debut)

Original budget: $4.5 million

 

Opening this weekend are two reboot hopefuls. The first is the Power Rangers written (partially) by Hollywood’s own son, Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra). The next one up is CHiPS, written and directed by Dax Sheppard based on the 1970’s sitcom. Also visiting theaters will be the sci-fi horror flick Life, starring Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Rebecca Ferguson. Check back next weekend for the full work-up!

As always, folks, feel free to leave your comments. What do you think of the top four? Did you get to see any of them? Why or why not? How do you think next weekend will shake up? Let me know!